The people of Canada were outraged when they tuned into the nation’s most watched nightly newscast and saw what had been recently added to the country’s foremost art gallery.
“The Canadian government spent two million dollars of our money on that?!” they cried. “That?! It looks like something my five-year-old would draw!”
They were right, the painting did look like something that any five-year-old could have done. Entitled Man’s Burden, it was mostly just a giant white canvas. At the bottom right corner, however, if you looked closely enough, you would see a lone stick figure man struggling to hold a box above his head.
“It is not a stick figure man,” the artist insisted while trying to defend his work. “It is a representation of the human condition and how weighed down we have become in these modern times.”
It still just looked like a stick figure man to the reporter doing the interview, so the artist continued.
“Inside the box is everything with which we struggle: debt, family and career obligations, political uncertainty, our fragile environment, violence, addiction to our electronic devises and so on,” he said.
“There’s an awful lot of blank space on that canvas. Why did you make the stick man so tiny? Why not make him bigger? At least bigger than my index finger anyway?” the reporter asked.
“Again, he is not a stick figure. His size is a symbol of how small we have all become in the grand scheme of things. The world is much bigger than us…so much is happening around us. It’s all become white noise really. Hence, the white canvas.”
Even with the artist’s explanation, the painting still just looked like a stick man holding a box over his head. That didn’t stop people from paying ten dollars to get into the gallery just so they could see it in person and gripe about even more later on. The government knew they would come, and by the end of the fiscal year, the cost of admission worked out to five million dollars. Not a bad return on something that any five-year-old could have painted in less than five minutes.